Christopher Columbus Hamby

by Jack Hamby

Christopher Columbus Hamby, son of Thomas Jefferson Hamby and Elizabeth Byars was born near Pittsboro, Calhoun County, Mississippi on 24 Sept 1851 and died at his home just outside the city of Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas on 31 Jan 1921.

C. C. Hamby attended common schools and one term of grammar school and worked on his father's farm until he secured a position as brakeman for the old Mississippi Central Railroad in the fall of 1871. He moved to Arkansas in the fall of 1872 and worked on the farm of his uncle Micajah Hamby near Booneville, Logan Co., and during the winder to 1873-1874 attended high school at Booneville. He moved to Millville, Ouachita County in the spring of 1874 and taught school two years during which time he studied law at nights and Saturdays using books borrowed from the firm of Bunn and Bearden of Camden, Arkansas. He was admitted to practice law at Camden in May 1876 after standing for examination in Oachita Circuit Court. On 2 Nov 1876, he married Emily Frazier on her 15th birthday. Emily died without issue on 30 Mar 1877. From 1876 to 1878, C. C. taught school at New Edinburgh, Cleveland County, Arkansas.

In October of 1878 he moved to Prescott and entered actively upon the practice of law. His first office building was the third floor of a three story frame building situated on lot 7 block 20 railroad survey of Prescott at the corner of West First North and Main streets. On 11 Dec 1878, he was enrolled as attorney in Nevada Circuit Court, Judge James K. Young presiding. During 1879 and 1880, he and Eugene E. White were partners in the real estate business and several years later formed a partnership for the practice of law. His second law office was on West First Street South on the southwest half of lot 8 block 21 of the railroad survey of Prescott. On 29 Jan 1879, he was appointed Notary Public by Governor W. R. Miller. Capt. Joe R. White and Brad Scott signed his official bond as sureties. In 1881, he was admitted to practice before the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Federal Courts.

On 6 Feb 1881, he married Esabella Caroline Blake. One child, Randolph Peden Hamby, was born on 24 Sept 1886. Randolph P. Hamby is responsible for most of the information presented in this sketch.

On 1 Dec 1886, the C. C. Hamby family moved to Texarkana where he entered the practice of law with Judge E. F. Friedell. On 28 Dec 1886, his second wife died of pneumonia and C. C. returned to Prescott and resumed the practice of law there.

On 14 Sept 1887, he married Bettie Hulda Wells to which the following children were born:

  1. Irma Lee Hamby b. 9 Feb 1889
  2. Leonard Christopher Hamby b. 24 June 1891, d. 14 Oct 1918
  3. Helen Hamby b. 23 Sept 1893, d. 9 Mar 1898
  4. Wells Byars Hamby b. 18 Jan 1896, d. Apr 1977
  5. Sarah Ann Hamby b. 9 Apr 1900, d. 17 Oct 1924

In 1877 Mr. Hamby joined the First Methodist Church at Prescott. In 1890 he was elected State Senator from the 20th district composed of Hempstead and Nevada counties, defeating Dr. C. M. Norwood, a populist. Mr. Hamby was a Democrat and served in the 28th state legislature in 1891 and the 29th in 1893. At the close of the 1891 session of the legislature he was elected hold-over president of the senate. During Governor James P. Eagle's illness in 1892, he served 4 months as governor of Arkansas. During the 1893 session he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the senate.

In April 1900 Mr. Hamby was elected city alderman from the first ward, having previously held the same office in 1882. He resigned in December 1900 and moved to his new jome just outside the city at the end of East Elm Street.

In 1904 he was unanimously elected Permanent Chairman of the Democratic State Convention which me in Hot Springs.

In 1907 he was appointed assistant general attorney for the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Co. and represented that company until 1910 in Nevada, Clark, Hempstead, Miller, Pike, Howard and Montgomery counties.

On 4 June 1917, he was admitted to practice before the supreme court of the United States at Washington, D.C. on the recommendation of United States Senator Joe. T. Robinson. In 1918 he edited, published and copyrighted a law treatise entitled "Appeal and Error."

On numerous occasions he was elected special Judge of the courts of Nevada, Clark, Hempstead and Pike counties. While a member of the state senate, he introduced and secured passage of the act creating the Court of Common Pleas for Nevada County.

He was a member of Prescott Lodge No. 80 of the Free and Accepted Masons, Ezra Council No. 45 Royal and Select Masters, Prescott Chapter No. 38 Royal Arch Masons, Ascalon Commandery Knights Templar No 22 all of Prescott, Arkansas and of Arkansas Consistory No. 1 A & A Scottish Rite Masons of the Valley of Little Rock, Arkansas. He served at different times as a member of standing committees of the Arkansas Grand Lodge F & AM. At the 1889 Masonic Grand Lodge, he was elected Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge and at its 1890 communication delivered the Grand Oration at Little Rock. He served as Worshipful Master of Prescott Lodge No. 80 in 1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1892, 1895, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, and 1906.

He was one of the original stockholders, and served as president for several years, of the Citizens Bank of Prescott. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas for 12 years. He served as a member of the Prescott school board for 15 years, 12 years of which he was president of the board. In 1898, he took an active part in the organization of the Prescott Water and Light Improvement District and at different times was City Attorney of Prescott.

While C. C. Hamby was a civil lawyer of no mean ability, he was recognized throughout southwest Arkansas as a criminal lawyer with few equals and no superiors. On one occasion, a man came into his office and asked C. C. what he would do if he found another man carrying on with his wife. Without looking up from the papers he was reading, C. C. replied, "I would kill him." C. C. represented the man in trial. When the persecutor asked him if he had killed his wife, the man said yes, Mr. Hamby.... At which time C. C. told him to shut up and not say another word. He did get the man off. Another time, a black man was in jail for stealing a pig. The man asked the jailer about a lawyer. The jailer told him that if he was innocent, any lawyer would do but if he was guilty he needed to see C. C. Hamby. After mulling this over a bit, the man asked how he could get hold of Mr. Hamby.

Most of the Hambys of this family are buried in DeAnn Cemetery just outside Prescott, Arkansas.